Back to school, back in the red: how to save money this September


Crisp, blank exercise books, shiny new shoes and stiffly ironed white shirts. Yes it's that time of year again when kids everywhere move up a rung on the school ladder. But for parents, forget about the emotions of waving the kids off every morning. For many, September means one thing and one thing only.... serious money worries. But kiddiewinks skipping back through the school gates doesn't have to mean spending an arm and a leg to get them there. Here we look at seven ways you could save yourself a packet this September.1) Loyalty love: dig out your store cards and reap the benefitsNot checked your Tesco Clubcard points balance recently? Now's the time to find out if you've got any points stacked up that you've forgotten about or you've been saving for a rainy day. Buying school essentials from supermarkets is not only good value, but using your points can see even further savings. Also look out for deals, vouchers and coupons to use that you can redeem in store.If you don't have any points to spend, then buying uniform or stationery in stores with loyalty cards means you can treat yourself to a little something once you've built up enough points.2) Get crafty. Customise basic school essentialsSpending a small fortune on branded goods for your kids can leave you feeling cheated, especially when they grow out of things so quickly. So instead of buying expensive labels, why not flex your creative muscles: go for the basic option and then get customising? A plain backpack or pencil case is a blank canvas to be decorated in a fun way that is really unique, and will leave the playground "fashionistas" fuming! This could also be a great end-of-summer activity for you and your children.3) Under your noseYou'd be surprised how many things we leave around the house that go overlooked, unopened or untouched. So why not use the start of September as an excuse to hunt for forgotten treasures or items you've kept buried in kitchen drawers for years? You might just salvage some school supplies. That old calculator you thought had seen better days; maths equipment hiding in desks or backpacks you'd forgotten about could all be waiting to see the light of day again4) Sell, Sell, SellAnd why not make a quick buck by selling off all those old treasures that you can't find a use for this term? You can also get rid of all the old school equipment your little ones no longer need, or want, that you're being forced to replace! Head to eBay, streamline your home and make some cash in the process. Whether you're selling a school tie for 99p or unworn school shoes your child's outgrown, there are people always on the lookout for all manner of things. And if you'd prefer not to use eBay, then why not try local sites like Gumtree, or a specialist online selling site. We've written a step-by-step guide to selling on Gumtree to help you through this process. And remember, it's not just Gumtree and eBay. There are a whole host of other sites where you can get selling; find out more from our marketplace selling guides here.5) Feel the love for prelovedYes we've said hit eBay hard and sell your unwanted things. But equally you could also use it as a buying tool for second-hand purchases. Why not bid on 'preloved' school uniforms or other gear? This is especially useful for things that you suspect might be a bit of a fad or a seasonal purchase, like that hockey stick required just for the autumn term or the clarinet. You could also try asking at the school itself to see if they have a dedicated second hand service you could scour for a bargain.6) Socialising, with an agenda....A great way to tap into the sharing economy is by befriending other parents. You can do this via school social media networks or by chatting at the school gates. It's particularly useful to be friends with parents of children the year above yours, so you can gratefully receive any hand-me-downs or get some advice about things they have found useful, or useless, for their children.7) And finally, get help.There are several initiatives and schemes to help you out financially. Whether it's childcare vouchers, free school meals or help with transport costs there is help available, so be sure to take advantage of it.So with the heady days of summer behind us, a little creativity and some serious organising can mean that going back to school doesn't have to break the bank this year. And it also means that you can now get saving for Christmas. Sigh.

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